3 Simple Tips To Free a Stuck Fridge Temperature Dial

Woman looking inside a fridge

Is your fridge’s temperature dial stuck, and you’re worried your food will spoil?

You’re not alone! Stuck temperature dials in fridges affect thousands of appliance owners daily, leaving them confused and worried about the potential cost of repairs.

I know how having your fridge’s temperature dial can be very annoying, but don’t worry; you’ve come to the right place for answers. Below, you’ll find a list including the main causes behind the problem and 3 simple tips you can try to free your stuck temperature dial.

When your fridge’s temperature dial is stuck, it can be due to a worn control knob, a faulty Cold Control, and infrequent cleaning.

Keep reading to get your fridge back to normal!

Why trust us? This article was written by Craig Anderson and Andy Fulenchek.

Craig has helped thousands of other homeowners repair their appliances since 2016.

Andy is one of our resident appliance repair experts with over a decade of experience. He currently runs his appliance repair company with a team of trusted technicians.

Why Your Fridge’s Temperature Dial Is Stuck

There’s no single reason to explain the situation, as many factors can be to blame; however, there are some common symptoms that you’ll want to look out for. A refrigerator that’s too cold, that does not turn on at all, or that fails to respond when the temperature dial is turned are all signs that something’s off.

In such cases, here’s what I recommend you do.

#1 Check the Control Knob

In my experience, the first thing you should look at when you’re trying to free a stuck fridge temperature dial is the control knob.

The dial or control knob is connected to a manual Cold Control, which acts as a temperature-based on/off switch. When the dial is not turning, is broken, or not making proper contact with the manual Cold Control, you may notice several issues, including that the fridge temperature is not changing.

Turning the temperature dial knob in a fridge
Wear in your fridge’s temperature dial can explain why it seems stuck.

Solution: First, you’ll want to pull the knob towards you to remove it from its post. Then, check the knob for cracks or wear.

From what I’ve seen in most fridges, the post has a “D” shape (a peg with a flat side), which the knob should mirror. If the knob’s “D” shape is worn out, it won’t make contact with the post properly and needs replacing.

#2 Check the Cold Control

The next thing to check when you’re trying to free a stuck fridge temperature dial is that the Cold Control is working.

Sometimes, even when replacing the knob that fits into the post, you’ll notice that nothing seems to be happening, although the post is moving. When both the post and the knob seem okay, but your fridge won’t change temperature, you likely have a Cold Control issue.

In a nutshell, the Cold Control is the sensor that detects your input when turning the temperature dial knob and adjusts the fridge’s temperature accordingly. The Cold Control is critical to ensure your fridge works normally, so anything that makes it fail (such as rust, damage, or corrosion) is cause for concern.

Solution: Before doing anything else, I’d be remiss not to mention that trying to force out the dial’s post by pulling it with pliers is a terrible idea, as you can break it. Please don’t use pliers.

Having clarified that, let’s talk about the Cold Control. In most cases, you’ll want to let a professional fridge technician take a look at the Cold Control, as it’s no simple task. Provided the technician determines the part must be replaced, you’ll either have to let them give you a quotation or look for the part yourself.

My usual advice is to let the technician find and install the part for you, as most professionals get good prices from vendors and manufacturers, not to mention that they may offer a labor discount if they misdiagnose the issue.

#3 Clean the Dial

Lastly, let’s talk about your daily habits, as they can also play a key role in explaining why you’re dealing with a stuck fridge temperature dial.

It won’t happen overnight, but if you let months and years go by without cleaning your fridge, dials, and shelves, you’ll eventually run into issues. Make sure to give your fridge a good cleaning session at least once every 2 months to prevent gunk and dirt buildup from sticking to the temperature dial and fixing it in place.

Baking soda in fridge
Keeping your fridge clean is key to preventing common issues.

Solution: I find that the best way to clean your fridge is to do it patiently. Buy a couple of bags of ice to put your food in (if you have a cooler, place your food inside with the ice). Once your food is safe from spoilage, scrub and wipe every nook and cranny.

You can use a mixture of equal parts water and vinegar to make the cleaning job easier and disinfect the fridge compartment at the same time. Baking soda also works wonders, so if you prefer using it over the cleaning solution mentioned above, go ahead!

General Fridge Tips and Knowledge

Now that you know what’s causing your stuck fridge temperature dial, let’s cover some good practices, general recommendations, and cost estimations surrounding the problem.

  • Always start simple: Whenever you’re troubleshooting any appliance, go from the simplest possible causes to the more complex and expensive repairs. Consider external factors, such as bad power outlets or poor ventilation.
  • Keep an eye out for temperature issues: Cold control issues are not uncommon and will typically manifest themselves as steady fridge temperatures even when the temperature dial is turned. Keep an eye on how your fridge behaves after you’ve determined that both the temperature knob and post work properly.
  • Consider the cost of repairs: Sometimes repairs aren’t worth it. Repairing and/or replacing your Cold Control can cost between $50-$200, or about $250 in total after considering a technician’s labor cost. If your fridge is not very expensive or is more than 10 years old, my usual advice is to buy a new one instead of repairing the one you currently own.

Freeing Your Fridge Temperature Dial

That about covers it!

When you’re trying to free a stuck fridge temperature dial, something as simple as ensuring that your food won’t spoil can become a challenge.

Luckily, as I hope this piece has helped you better understand, addressing the most common causes behind a stuck fridge temperature dial can be easy and quick. More often than not, simple actions, such as cleaning your fridge frequently and checking that the dial’s knob isn’t worn out, will do the trick.

Thanks for reading. If this article was useful and answered your most burning questions, please check out our other resources and free guides below and consider subscribing to our newsletter.

Have a great day!


I've been helping homeowners with appliance repair since 2016. Starting out as an enthusiastic amateur, I've since worked with many Appliance, HVAC, and DIY experts over the last 7+ years. My mission is to help fix your appliances and prevent future issues - saving you stress, time, and money. Visit my author page to learn more! Read more